BAM Key Details: 

  • New research from Clever Real Estate, a St. Louis-based real estate company, shows more than two in five recent homebuyers struggle to make their mortgage payments, and 82% have at least one regret about their home purchase.
  • 78% of upcoming buyers plan to work with a real estate agent, and 71% of those who bought a home in 2023 or 2024 used an agent. 
  • But 42% say their agent was less helpful than they had anticipated, and 54% say their agent cared less about their best interests than about making a deal. 

A recent survey from Clever Real Estate shows 43% of recent homebuyers are struggling to make their mortgage payments. 

Buying a home often means taking a closer look at monthly spending and making some hard choices about what can stay and what needs to go. Yet 44% of those who purchased a home in 2023 or 2024 are taking on more debt to maintain their lifestyle. 

Meanwhile, 47% of recent homebuyers point to their home purchase as the reason they’re now in over their heads financially. 

And while 78% of prospective homebuyers plan to work with an agent, 42% of those who purchased a home recently found their agent less helpful than they expected. And more than half say their agent cared more about making a deal than about what was best for their client.

Key takeaways from the survey

For 31% of homeowners who purchased a home in 2023 or 2024, the home buying process was more difficult than they’d anticipated because— 

  • They exceeded their home buying budget (40%)
  • Interest rates were too high (38%)
  • There weren’t enough homes on the market (38%)
  • Home prices were too high (37%)

Half of the respondents in Clever’s survey (50%) accepted a higher mortgage rate than they had originally planned to obtain a mortgage. And 37% went over budget on their home purchase, making the home price the most compromised priority. 

Nearly half (47%) feel they’re in over their heads financially since buying their home. 

Six out of ten (60%) say their financial situation has not improved since buying a home. And 82% have at least one regret about their home purchase. 

The top regret was the excessive maintenance their home required (28%), with 35% of these homeowners attributing this regret to the home seller’s lack of transparency. 

Top 10 regrets of homebuyers who bought their homes in 2023 or 2024:

  1. “My home requires too much maintenance” (28%)
  2. “My home does not meet all my needs” (24%)
  3. “I spent too much” (23%)
  4. “My interest rate was too high” (23%)
  5. “I bought too quickly” (22%)
  6. “My agent pressured me to make an offer” (21%)
  7. “I don’t like my home’s location” (19%)
  8. “I bought a fixer-upper” (17%)
  9. “I bought sight unseen” (17%)
  10. “I don’t like my home” (12%)

Over three-quarters (77%) of the prospective homebuyers in the survey have started saving for a down payment, but 59% are feeling financially overwhelmed by the additional drain on their income. 

Among these future buyers, cosmetic improvements take priority over structural details, with 33% listing an updated kitchen, bathroom, or lighting as a priority, while 24% prioritize a strong foundation. 

Meanwhile, back to those who became homeowners in 2023 or 2024, 85% say they compromised on their priorities when buying a home. 

10 Home-buying priorities compromised by homeowners:

  1. Good neighborhood (21% compromised vs 34% who did not compromise)
  2. Affordable home (37% vs 11%)
  3. Desirable location (19% vs 27%)
  4. Good commute (27% vs 13%)
  5. Good school district (19% vs 19%)
  6. Access to parks (19% vs 18%)
  7. Proximity to friends/family (23% vs 12%)
  8. Large home (24% vs 11%)
  9. Home with no renovations needed (28% vs 6%)
  10. New home (24% vs 9%)

Buyers, sellers, and agents

According to a separate Clever survey, 94% of home sellers support the idea of a new commission structure in which the buyer would pay their own agent’s commission fee. 

In this survey, though, that approval percentage drops to 61% among home buyers—half of whom say they would consider going without a real estate agent if they are obligated to add the cost of commission to the already daunting cost of buying a home. 

That said, nearly 8 in 10 (78%) of the upcoming buyers in the survey plan to work with a real estate agent. And 71% of those who bought a home in 2023 or 2024 used an agent, but 42% say their agent was less helpful than they had anticipated. 

It gets worse. More than half (54%) of the recent homebuyers surveyed say their agent cared less about their best interests than about making a deal. 

People talk about negative experiences, and those “horror stories” then breed concerns in future homebuyers. Those concerns caused 29% of recent homebuyers in the survey to decide against hiring a real estate agent to help them with the homebuying process. 

Top reasons for not hiring agent: 

  • General lack of trust in agents (32%)
  • Wanting more control over the homebuying process (32%)
  • Wanting to save money (30%)

Faced with the prospect of paying their own agent, surveyed buyers say they would cut their home-buying budget by an average of $13,167 to offset the cost of commission fees.

All the more reason for committed buyer agents to demonstrate their value at the very outset, demystifying the housing market and the home buying process to help buyers make the best decisions for them by— 

  • Clearing up confusion and misconceptions over the changing commission structure
  • Walking them through every detail of the paperwork to ensure they understand
  • Being transparent about all the things you do for them as their agent
  • Showing how working with you can save them money up front and in the long term

Read the full report for more information, including charts and methodology.